Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Gerry Gets His Boat!!

I was looking at some photos from earlier in my career, and chuckled over the many "external" loads I have flown. I have also been asked hundreds, if not thousands of times, how all the materials and equipment get into a lake in the bush inaccessible by road. The most-asked question is always; "How did you get the boats in here?" The following story may shed a little light on the situation.

Spring. A beautiful time of year for a bush pilot. Give me a float-plane and give me somewhere to go. As beautiful as the fall is with the change of colours, the decrease in temperature, and the shorter days, the spring is equally marvelous with the increase in sunshine, the greenness signaling rejuvenation, the birds, and the melting of the ice.

It was May, 2004. I was flogging an Otter on floats for Blue Water Aviation Services Ltd.. It was nice to be back on floats. It is most enjoyable seeing familiar lakes once again after the ice leaves them. It is also nice to follow the rivers and see how powerful the rapids and falls run in the spring with all the runoff added to the river.

During this time of year, we supply a number of fly-in lodges with the initial staff and equipment needed to open up the camp for business. One of these lodges that we service is Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge, and we do the support flying from our Sub-base in Bissett. Gerry and Phil are the co-owners of Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge, and each spring they commit a lot of time and energy to ensuring the opening of their camp is a smooth affair. Every year they show up in Bissett with a "slightly" over-loaded truck and we run two Otters back and forth between their lodge and our Sub-base until all their staff and freight is safely deposited at Aikens Lake. Every year they always bring one item that does not fit inside the airplanes.( I think Phil does this just to annoy me as he always has a good laugh when he shows us what he has brought.) This year it was a large boat, but it would have to be flown in later due to daylight restrictions.

A couple of days later, I was coming back from "up north", and my track would take me directly over Bissett.
I looked out the side window and noticed on the lakes there wasn't much wind. The temperature was also cool, and much more agreeable with flying "external" loads. I didn't have any more trips that day, and there were two crewmen in Bissett to help with the "external".
I reduced power, and down C-GBTU went. I approached Bissett from the northwest and "skimmed" the landing so well, you wouldn't have spilled your beer. I taxied in and shut the old horse down as I coasted towards the dock. I got out and tied her up.

Johnnie, "Codfish", and I rolled the boat over on the shore to have a better look at it. Holy shit, this boat is a lot larger than I thought it was. It was an 18' Lund, with live wells, wooden flooring, and pedestal seating all installed. Good grief, this bugger is going to be heavy. Lund boats are heavy boats, but they are quality-made. They are extremely stable on the water, and always survive the plane ride to the lake damage-free. Johnnie, "Codfish"(his name is Wendell, he is from the east coast), and I took the seats out of the boat and carried it over to the Otter. After we finished checking each other for hernias, we strapped the boat on the side of the Otter. A boat is always flown stern-first (physics I won't get into here) and is held on with "Herc" straps, straps so named as they are used in Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft to secure palleted loads to the floor. We double-checked the straps for security, and taxied out. I had a partial load inside the airplane, and I took along "Codfish" as a "swamper".

The old Pezetel engine started to throb as the supercharger spooled up. One thousand screamin' horses whinnied in unison as C-GBTU lifted off the lake at Bissett and climbed towards Aikens Lake. We landed in the east arm of the lake, as this is where the docks are located. Gerry met us, and he was quite happy to receive his boat. We unloaded and bid him adieu, took off and headed back to Bissett. We never damaged the boat or the aircraft floats, and still had all our fingertips and finger-nails. Just another day flying in the bush.

So, the next time you are at a camp in the bush and see some large, hulking, unsymmetric piece of equipment or machinery sitting there, and you wonder "how the hell did they get THAT in here?", chances are it came by air!

After a verbal berating from Johnnie and "Codfish", I relented, and secured the boat with "Herc" straps instead of duct tape..... Posted by Hello

In light of the fact that my friends would not let me pretend to be Captain, I pouted, took my boat, and went home.... Posted by Hello

I can vividly remember helping Robin tie a 12 ft skiff onto the beaver for a delivery to one of the little lakes we used to outcamp in (names now escape me). I always thought the boats were tied stern first so that the last rope could be put around the bow, thus if the boat let go, it would actually pivot away from the plane, hopefully avoiding a more serious mishap. No?
The reason for tying a boat stern first on an airplane is that the frontal area drag of the boat is greater this way, but overall less than the drag created by the vortices and turbulence leaving the stern if the boat is tied bow first. Also, the turbulence raises hell with the horizontal stabilizer on a Beaver, being in the same longitudinal plane. This is not as pronounced on an Otter as the horizontal stabilizer is in the same horizontal plane as the wing. For maximum efficiency, boats are tied on the right float as low as possible. The slipstream helps to adhere the boat better, as in the pictures accompanying the story, the slipstream would actually be pushing the boat outward.
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